June 19, 2019 News, Press Releases

10 Drug Corporations Drive One-Third of Taxpayer Spending in Medicare Part D

WASHINGTON, DC — Negotiating for the 250 most-expensive drugs in Medicare Part D would address nearly 80 percent of all spending in the program, according to an updated analysis by Patients For Affordable Drugs. The analysis, using data from CMS’ Medicare Part D Drug Spending Dashboard, found the top 250 drugs cost the program $118 Billion, or 77.8% of the program’s total spending on 2,879 covered drugs. Additionally, the analysis found that 10 drug corporations dictate one-third (over $54 billion) of all Medicare Part D spending. Read the full analysis here.

“Big Pharma is using its monopoly pricing power to siphon cash from government coffers and empty patient bank accounts,” said Ben Wakana, Executive Director of Patients For Affordable Drugs. “The time for the government to negotiate on behalf of patients and taxpayers is now.”


  • More than 100 of the top-125 most-expensive drugs had a single manufacturer.Drugs with multiple manufacturers dropped further down on the list, demonstrating that competition drives down drug prices and monopolies lead to high prices.
  • Ten drug corporations dictate one-third of Medicare Part D spending. Together these ten drug companies account for over $54 billion of spending in Medicare Part D.
    • Gilead Sciences has 12 of the top-250 costliest drugs totaling more than $7.4 billion in spending.
    • Janssen Pharmaceutica, Novo Nordisk, and AstraZeneca each have 10 drugs on the list, together total more than $17 billion in spending.
    • Merck & Co has 8 drugs on the list for a total of $5.4 billion in spending.
    • GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, and Boehringer Ing. each have 7 drugs on the list for a total of $14.5 billion in spending.
    • Sanofi-Aventis has 6 drugs on the list, totaling $5.7 billion in spending.
    • Celgene has 3 drugs on the list, totaling over $4 billion.
  • Of the top 10 most-expensive drugs, at least 6 have been accused of engaging in abusive monopolistic practices, often by blocking generic competition or manipulating  the US patent system.
    • Revlimid: REMS abuses (Bloomberg)
    • Lantus: Patent thickets, prolonged exclusivity, and delayed competition (STAT)
    • Harvoni: Unmerited patents (I-MAK)
    • Lyrica: Prolonged exclusivity (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
    • Advair: Patent abuses and secret PBM deals (Reuters, Axios)
    • Humira: Pay-for-delay deals and patent thickets (Axios)

Eighty-six percent of Americans — majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents — support allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices. But under current law, Medicare is prohibited from negotiating directly with drug companies on behalf of taxpayers and beneficiaries.




Patients For Affordable Drugs is the only independent national patient organization focused exclusively on achieving policy changes to lower the price of prescription drugs.